Time to prepare for an earlier Berlin Fair

Published on Sunday, 16 July 2017 21:18
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - It’s the same great tradition at a brand new time.

The 69th annual Berlin Fair, hosted by the Berlin Lions Club at the Berlin Fairgrounds, has been held on the first weekend in October, but will run from Sept. 15-17 this year.

The reason for the date change, Lenny Tubbs, president of the Berlin Lions Club said, is to draw more visitors.

“We were the last major fair in Connecticut. Durham was just before us,” said Tubbs.

The Durham Fair is traditionally held the last full weekend in September, and is Sept. 21-24 this year.

Berlin’s fair fell afoul of foul weather often on its old dates, Tubbs said.

Another benefit of the move, according to Tubbs: “This allows us to get more in line with (the vendors) and make an overall better experience for everyone.”

Organizers are well underway with preparations.

Proceeds from the event generate most of the funding for the volunteer, community organizations involved.

Headlining the entertainment on Saturday is country singer-songwriter and guitarist Frankie Ballard, and on Sunday, Jeff Pitchell with The Legends.

Ballard topped the U.S. Country Airplay list three times with “Helluva Life,” “Sunshine & Whiskey” and “Young & Crazy.”

Tubbs said the Berlin Fair is held in a more urban environment than other fairs. The weekend provides an educational experience for those unfamiliar with an agricultural lifestyle.

“We’re a local, agricultural fair but big enough to make it worth driving 30 or 40 miles to see. We put a show out there and the people and stuff that we bring, it’s the real deal.”

There will also be family entertainment by Steve Corning of Maine, performing juggling acts, escape artist tricks involving audience members, jokes and more. New entertainment is still being lined up, Tubbs said.

“We’re working hard this year to bring some new entertainment and breathe some new life into the fair,” said Tubbs. “We want to bring more of what the people want.”

The regular staples will be back though, including the food that comes entirely from local organizations, outside of an ice cream truck and pizza from the carnival truck that are grandfathered in and accepted, as well as local contests, a rodeo and amusement rides.

“We don’t allow the carnivals to bring in outside vendors, like the sausage and peppers,” said Tubbs.

That has meant food offerings such as burgers, hot dogs, chicken, fried dough, sausage and peppers, baked potatoes and tacos from the Lions Club, “freedom fries” from the Berlin Fire Department, lobster rolls and barbecue dinners from local churches, and homemade clam chowder from the American Legion, being served out of the nearly 30 stands across the 35 acres of land on the fairgrounds.

“You can get just about anything you want from mac and cheese to lobster,” said Tubbs. “‘Eat my way through the fair’ is a big thing we’ll hear at the gate.”

“It’s really a community event,” Tubbs added.

Up for competition are arts and crafts by adults and kids, bakery items, canned goods, flowers, fruits, needlework, photography, vegetables and more. One building will be devoted entirely to artwork and crafts from children, which range from cars and bears sculpted out of wood, all the way to pet rock collections. Registration for the competitions can be done at ctberlinfair.com

Painted Pony Rodeo out of New York, a stock contractor for Professional Bull Riding, will bring bulls, calves and steers, said Tubbs. The fair’s rodeo will also include barrel racing and other traditional rodeo events.

Tractor and ox pulls will also be held, and pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and fowl will be displayed in the agriculture building and compete for ribbons and prizes.

And attendees can’t forget about the frog races. “You would think it would be a kids event. The kids event is small,” said Tubbs. “The adults, you’ll have a full grown adult, kneeling on the ground stamping his hands to try and get the frog jumping, yelling whatever, and crawling across the payment.”

Dreamland Amusements will bring some new rides along with the traditional Ferris wheel, in addition to the go-kart riding and a historic agriculture building that features a horse-drawn Guida’s Dairy milk truck from New Britain.

With alcoholic beverages for sale, and soda and water for those who don’t drink, Tubbs said the fair is secure and has never had a major issue, with police.

Tickets will become available at locations around Berlin approximately a month before the fair, said Tubbs. Kids tickets are discounted and children under 11 get in free. Discounts will be available for purchasing tickets in advance, he added.

More information on the fair can be found at ctberlinfair.com.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or cpaullin@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Sunday, 16 July 2017 21:18. Updated: Sunday, 16 July 2017 21:21.